Over three days in November and December, Tortoise will convene a series of investigations of the key moments and decisions in a nine-month effort to control the virus that by any reasonable standard or comparison has failed. The question is: why?
The case for a public inquiry into the UK’s response to the Covid pandemic is clear and urgent. Clear, because over 44,000 people have died and Britain’s excess death rate is higher than for any comparable advanced economy. Urgent, because the longer it is delayed the more scope those responsible will have to varnish the record, and the more inclined a weary public may be to let them.
A full inquiry and a fearless reckoning are essential – to learn lessons, save lives and for the sake of justice – and yet it isn’t happening. The government’s position is that the appropriate time will come, and it will tell us when. But the stakes are too high to leave the timing to the witnesses, and too high to wait.
So we’ve decided to hold an inquiry ourselves. Our evidence collection has already begun and will continue with a call for submissions from members, the public and other interested parties over the next six weeks.
How to take part: as an observer or a witness
The Tortoise Covid Inquiry is open to members of Tortoise and specially invited guests. Inquiry sessions will feel rather different from usual Tortoise ThinkIns. The sessions will include statements from invited witnesses, along with introductory comments from legal professionals. The Chat function will be open as normal.
If you are interested in contributing as a witness at any of the Inquiry sessions, please let us know using the booking form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
Day Two sessions include:
The economy: CBILs and job support – was it enough?
“Whatever it takes” was Sunak’s mantra at the start of Covid. But as the crisis unfolded, the loan scheme floundered and 3 million taxpayers were excluded from government support. Did Rishi get it right? Read up
Downing Street – Cummings, communication & public confidence
Confidence in the government’s handling of the coronavirus fell dramatically after Dominic Cummings’s Durham trip came to light. Public faith was shattered and a clear message started to muddy. How much responsibility should the prime minister’s aide shoulder for the drop in public confidence in the covid strategy? Read up
Who was failed the most?
Far from being a great leveller, Covid attacked some people more than others – with obesity and BAME groups more likely to fall victim to the virus. At the same time, domestic violence, child abuse and demand for child protection rose quickly under lockdown but schools and social services were too often powerless to help. So were lawyers and the courts in safeguarding cases. Why did the safety net fail some of the most vulnerable in society? How should it be fixed? Read up
What went wrong with education?
Schools were shut down and exams cancelled – only replaced by an ill-conceived algorithm. A lack of online teaching during lockdown meant the poorest children were disproportionately punished and the education gap grew. Then, in September, universities became Covid hotbeds and new students were imprisoned in their halls. And all the while the Secretary of State for education Gavin Williamson was nowhere to be seen… Read up
Quarantines and travel corridors – a wasted summer?
In the lull between waves one and two the government had a window in which to create an effective national test and trace system. Instead it seemed to fret for months over who could go where on holiday. What was the scientific advice behind the travel rules? Why were there no health checks at airports? And why did thousands of tracers have nothing to do? Read up